I have to tell you that the thought of racing the 3M Half-Marathon this Sunday made me extremely uncomfortable all week long.

Last weekend’s stomach flu really knocked me for a loop.  I spent all of Sunday and Monday in bed this week.  I tried my best to eat a little something here and there, but just the thought of food made my stomach churn. 

My food intake on Sunday consisted of 6 saltine crackers and 4 life savers.  At dinner on Monday I was able to fight down some broth and noodles, but the damage had already been done.

I lost between 5 and 6 lbs. in 36 hours.  Not good leading up to a road race.

Tuesday I was able to get out and run my scheduled 8-miler.

Wednesday I felt a bit better and ran 10 kilometers in 42:22 or 6:50 pace.  A workout that I had really “nailed” the Wednesday before the Decker Half Marathon back in December. 

As of Friday morning, two days before race day I have gained all but one of those pounds back and about 90% of my confidence.   I don’t think I am really going to relax until I fall into my comfortably hard pace on Sunday morning around 6:35/mile and start ticking off a few splits. 

A race that just over a week ago I was really looking to go out and crushing, I am now quite a bit nervous about.

That is probably a good thing however as when I made my traditional “drive of the course” to mentally download the ups, downs, twists and turns of the route, I was reminded that the course while forgiving has it’s tricky patches as well.

3M Bib for Sunday's Race

Time for the traditional pre-race course preview:

Miles 1-2:  The course starts with a climb of 90 feet spread over the opening two miles as runners travel up Stonelake Boulevard, make the left hand turn on to Braker Lane and approach the frontage road of Highway 183.  I thought a lot about this opening stretch since driving the course and I think this will really help me find my rythym and stay “honest”.  Not just charging out there like a maniac and pushing pace far too quick too soon.

I would like to tick off two 6:35’s over the opening two miles and I will be right where I want to be at the two-mile mark sitting at 13:10 on the clock.  If that pace seems too rich for me at that point, I will know that my illness last weekend has taken more out of me than I had hoped.

Miles 3-5:  Miles 3,4 and 5 feature a few rolling ups and downs.  There is a climb along the frontage of highway 183, and another making the turn up onto Mesa to Spicewood springs.  There are five turns on the course to this point on a 1/2 marathon course that only features 13 turns total.  This is the point in the race where I will be looking to lock into my pace and click off consistent mile splits right around 6:30 pace.

3M Half Marathon Course Elevation

If I am able to hit mile five with 32:10-32:20 on the clock we will have the course right where we want it.

Miles 6-9:  At the start of mile 6 the course starts to tilt in the runner’s favor in a big way.  Elevation will drop from 880 feet above sea level to 700 feet at the mile 6 mark.  A slight incline heading up into miles 7 and 8 will make runners feel like they are running “uphill”, when in fact the course only rises about 25 feet.

It is the flattening of the course after the serious downhill section that is more or less an “illusion” at this point.  It is welcomed however as it gives runners a chance to rest those calves and quadricept muscles which were working so hard on the downhill.

Split goals for this part of the course?  Something around 6:20 for mile 6 and 7, 6:35 for miles 8 and 9 would leave us at the 58:10 mark entering mile number 10.  Aggressive goals for sure to this point, but if the legs show up on Sunday, I think we have a shot.

Miles 10-12:  A hill rises in front of the runners at the 9.5 mile mark on the course.  It is somewhat steep and lasts approximately 3/10 of a mile.  Similar to one of my Thursday hill repeats, it will be important to focus on form and not let the hill sap too much energy. 

Mile 10 is going to be an important mile to try to stay tall and smooth.  The race won’t be “won” here, but it certainly can be “lost” if I don’t stay smart and hold back a bit for the closing push.  I’ll let myself slow a bit here and turn in a 6:40 to gather some strength for the end of the race.

With only 5 Kilometers to go it will be tempting to “push”, but not yet.  Not quite yet.

I need to remember to be patient.

There is one final crest at the 10.30 to 10.40 mile mark depending on how economically I’ve taken the corners and managed the course.  It also lasts about 3/10 of a mile, but is a bit smaller than the previous climb.  As we approach mile 11 any climbing with the exception of a small hill over the closing 1/2 mile is done. 

Now it’s time.  Time to go to work.

Goals for this point in the race would be an 11th mile at 6:25 and a 12th mile at 6:30.  Will I be able to hold on to my pace at this point?  I guess that’s what we will find out on Sunday. 

The Finish:  Mile 13 starts with another significant downhill stretch it bottoms out at the mid way point and throws the final climb at the runners with just 6/10 of a mile to go.  If we reach this point with anything left in the tank the final 400 meters should be pretty quick, pace dropping close to 6:10 I am hoping.  Let’s call the final mile at 6:18 and the last 1/10 at :45 seconds.

Goal time for the race:  1:25:08.

That time scares me a bit as it would be a  1 minute and 40 second PR at the half-marathon distance.  But after driving the course it is a time that I think is on the edge of what we are capable of.  A stretch goal?  Yep.  But with Austin just 3 weeks away, it’s time to cowboy up” and find out what kind of race we are capable of running for Dom.

Weather right now is calling for 49 degree temperatures and a 6 mph wind that would be blowing at the runners for most of the race on Sunday morning out of the South/Southwest.

Not perfect for a fast race, I would prefer the temperature to be closer to 45 degrees and the wind to be blowing behind the runners from the North, but it shouldn’t be anything like the conditions we dealt with at the Decker Half Marathon back in December.

If we have a shot at going sub 1:25:00 on Sunday we’re going to go for it.

No shame in failing, just in failing to try.

  1. Jodi Higgins says:

    Good luck on Sunday Joe! You are going to rock it as usual! Don’t be nervous! You did a fantastic job of resting and recovering from the flu earlier this week! Looking forward to finally getting the chance to meet you in a few weeks!

  2. Matt says:

    Great goals for Sunday Joe. I think you’ll do just fine. Legs should be back Sunday and ready to rock ‘n roll. Once you get a couple of miles into it I bet you will be cruising along and ticking off the splits just as you’ve planned. Good luck and have fun!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Matt! I’m hoping you are right. When we hit mile 2 at 183 I think I’ll have a good idea what kind of day it is going to be. Good news is I’ll be at breakfast by about 8:30 a.m. no matter what happens! Have a great rest of the day!

  3. David H. says:

    Joe, I love the way you come up with a very specific goal time. I think that will help me come up with better goals once I can get back to racing.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi David! I found breaking down the miles has helped me stay focused and actually believe I can run a little faster than a time I might just pick out of a hat. It’s helped me to a few PR’s over the last year or so – I’m hoping that trend continues. Best to you! J

  4. Andy B. says:

    Good luck on Sunday. I’ll see you out there as well. I’m bouncing back from the flu and a hamstring problem, but I’m hoping the forced rest will do me some good.

  5. I am excited for this one! Great post on the route. You are the epitome of “SMART” goals – specific to say the least. I love it. Here’s to a great race.

    ps. random, but at what temp do you typically wear gloves?

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Michael! Thanks for the visit and the message. Great question on gloves. If the temperature is under 47 degrees or so (and the wind is not blowing), that is when I look to put on a pair of light gloves. Under 40 I go to my medium weight down to about 33 and then anything below that I’m in either my running mittens or in the case of really cold temperatures in the 20’s I wear my light gloves inside my mittens.

      When the wind is blowing however – that is when it gets a little trickier. As a general rule I’ll still run without gloves down until we get to about 48 degrees or so, and then I might wear a heavier pair than normal if the wind chill is especially rough. Good news on the gloves is you can always take them off and tuck them in your shorts or tights … but if you don’t have them …. big trouble. Have a great race Sunday!

  6. Jim in Maine says:

    Just finished catching up with your week Joe … guess if you had to be sick it was better to happen last weekend then any other time in your training cycle for both this half and your big race in 3 weeks. No doubt you are hydrating and finalizing your mental preparation as you have already completed all the necessary physical work. It has been a pleasure following you and I am very confident you are going to do well.

    As an aside, going to finish one of the bathrooms today and head off to PT again. Hope to get clearance to ease back into running this weekend and will have more time for DM … I also have renewed respect for people who do tile work professionally. I believe I turned a three day job into a week and a half job … but it does look good.

    Patti and I send our best from Wells to Austin for Dawn, Landry and you to enjoy a very successful and healthy weekend.


    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jim! It’s been an interesting “race week” to say the least Jim. You are right however, the timing of this bug was pretty good if it had to happen. Would have loved it to hit me after my final 20 miler, but at this point, that run wouldn’t have helped or hurt me at Austin.

      The hay is in the barn.

      Looking forward to racing well this weekend, just wish it was a 10-miler 🙂

      Sounds like you really took on some heavy lifting at the house during your downtime Jim. The guys that do that work and stone work here in TX truly are amazing craftsmen. I bet it looks fantastic!

      Best to you, Patti and the gang up in Maine. Stay warm! I’ll do a little shorts and singlet racing for you this weekend in your honor!

  7. Joe, I think you’re going to be great…this stomache bug hit you a week ahead of time for a reason. Just close enough to make you worry, sure, but it sounds like you’ll be fully recovered in time to bring your best.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi AJ! I think you are right. Perhaps a blessing in disguise as it forced
      Me to really dial back the intensity on Sunday’s run. Ironically before the Decker half I ran 18 on the Sunday before the race ….

      Coincidence? I don’t really believe in them too much.

      Have a great weekend AJ! Stop back Sunday, should have a goo story to tell.

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